Paolo Casali, M.D., Zachry Foundation Distinguished Professor of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics and Professor of Medicine, has just been awarded the Target identification in Lupus grant from the Lupus Research Alliance.
The grant was for a project entitled “Intrinsic B cell epigenetic mediators as therapeutic targets in lupus.”
Dr. Casali’s research focuses on the mechanisms of the antibody locus activation, targeting and expression, as well as regulation of genome-wide and specific gene expression by epigenetic factors and modifications, and gut microbiota, in antibody/autoantibody responses and immune B cell memory.
“This is a very prestigious award by a top private agency in the U.S. and the most important for women’s health,” said Dr. Casali.
According to the Lupus Research Alliance, the grant will fund his research with $200,000 per year for three years. The grant supports highly meritorious research focused on the identification and scientific and/or clinical investigation of molecular pathways and therapeutic targets that will lead to new therapies or improved management for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
SLE is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks virtually the whole patient’s body, causing widespread inflammation and damage in the affected organs. It can affect the joints, skin, brain, lungs, kidneys, heart and blood vessels. Women of all ages (at a higher rate between 15 and 40 years old) are affected far more than men (9 women for every 1 man) and African-Americans are particularly susceptible to the disease. The causes of SLE are unknown, but are believed to be linked to genetic and hormonal factors.
“There is no cure for lupus, but medical interventions can help control it,” Dr. Casali said.